Imagine waking up to find your arm covered in blood because your pet parrot decided it wanted to chew on you. That might be a little more than you bargained for when you signed up for the responsibility of owning a pet bird, but unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence with many parrots.
Parrots are very intelligent creatures and can become frustrated over a variety of factors around them.
This blog post will give you five reasons why birds bite and how to stop them from biting so that both you and your feathered friend can live happily ever after!
1. Parrots Bite for Attention
Parrots are brilliant beings with the intelligence level of a toddler. Just like an over-indulged two-year-old, they can become frustrated if they do not get enough attention and may resort to biting to get some attention from you.
Many parrots were hand-raised by their owners, which is a great way to start them off, but it also means that some parrots have become a little too comfortable with the presence of people.
Parrots are very social creatures and look to their owners as flock members. If they do not receive enough positive attention from you, they may try to get your attention in other ways, such as biting.
2. Parrots Bite When They’re Scared
Parrots are not the best at expressing their emotions, so you may think that your feathered friend is angry with you when he’s actually scared.
If your parrot bites when he’s scared but then stops and seems to fly away fine after a few hours, it may be due to his friendly nature and desire to avoid confrontation.
Many birds just want to avoid conflict, but this can get your relationship into a lot of trouble. You must pay attention to the warning signs and change your ways before your parrot gets too scared.
Scared parrots may bite because they feel threatened, cornered, or confined without easy means of escape. Parrots are very reactive animals in general, so if they have to react quickly to what they perceive as a threat to protect themselves, you may end up with a scar or two.
3. Parrots Bite When They Have Learned It From You
Parrot owners may have unintentionally trained their birds to bite by reinforcing biting behavior with attention.
For example, a person who tries to remove a chewing bird from his shoulder and gets bit may laugh it off because he thinks that the parrot’s bite is “cute” or “harmless.” In reality, this owner is teaching his pet that biting is acceptable behavior.
Parrots are intelligent animals and learn by mimicry, which means that they will copy what you do; for this reason, it’s important to make sure that everything you’re doing is positive.
4. Parrots Have Different Personalities, Just Like People
You may see a bird bite a person one day and think that it’s because the animal is aggressive, but maybe the two simply don’t get along. Just like people, parrots have different personalities and interests.
Some birds are not interested in human interaction; others prefer interacting with their same flockmates rather than a new person.
Some parrots really want to be social and show you how much they interact if you give them a chance.
5. Parrots Bite Out of Frustration
When your bird is biting out of frustration, he may be trying to tell you that something is wrong. For example, if he’s bored, he just wants some attention from you.
Parrots kept in too small of an environment with little or no attention may lash out; they may also bite because something is wrong with their environment, such as a lack of enrichment activities. Biting out of frustration can be a warning sign to watch for!
6. Parrots Bite Themselves
Birds can be very preening animals and may therefore bite their own feathers in order to preen them. Parrots often “self-destruct” when they are stressed or bored, which you should pay attention to if you see it happen.
Certain medical conditions may also cause your parrot to bite himself; research your pet’s symptoms and get advice from an expert if you suspect a medical condition.
7. Parrots Sometimes Bite Because They’re Hungry or Thirsty
If your parrot is biting you out of hunger, offer him food either from his bowl or on a perch. Your bird must always have fresh water available if he isn’t hungry and prefers to bite for fun!
8. Not All Parrots Do Well in Captivity
Although each parrot species has its own set of unique traits, there are a few things that every parrot needs to be happy.
For example, as birds with high energy and intelligence levels, all parrots need plenty of stimulating toys. In addition, most love to chew; they need to have toys they can chew on for as long as they like.
Some species are calmer than others and may be more content with a quieter environment, while other birds need stimulation or become agitated.
9. They Are Playing
Sometimes, biting may not be a negative emotion at all! When you’re interacting with your parrot, and they bite, it may be their way of saying that they want to keep playing.
Although this behavior isn’t ideal, it’s important not to overreact; this can make playtime difficult for both of you in the future.
How Can I Tell If My Parrot Is Going to Bite Me?
There are a few behaviors you should look for that may indicate that your bird is getting ready to chomp down on you.
Pay attention to the way your parrot is looking at you. If he is staring or making eye contact with you directly, he may be trying to tell you something or warning that he might bite (although this depends on his species.)
Watch out for perkiness; if your bird’s tail is going up and down, this may mean that they are about to nip you.
Beware of a “jaw pop,” too; this means that your parrot is trying to open his beak wide to bite you. If you see these signs, it’s best to back away from your bird, so they don’t mistake your movement as a threat.
How Can I Tell My Parrot Has a Biting Problem?
If you’ve gotten to the point of biting and nipping so often that it has almost become normal for both of you, try not to let your parrot continue his behavior unless there is a good reason.
If your pet has a biting problem and you don’t want him to be agitated, he mustn’t bite you while playing or when you are trying to talk to him. By setting limits on his behavior, you can make sure that he is not overstimulated and biting repeatedly. So, if he bites you while you’re playing with him, stop playing; if he bites when you talk to him, don’t talk so much.
Can Every Parrot Stop Biting?
Biting is usually not a problem that goes away quickly. It may go away with time, but it can take a long time to fix the problem (up to a year,) and you should be cautious about how much attention or affection you give your bird during that time. If both of you are frustrated with biting, consider not spending as much time together until he has calmed down and biting has become less of a problem.
Also, note that older parrots may have a more difficult time getting rid of their biting habits since they’ve had the behavior for so long.
There are many different ways to stop a parrot from biting. By paying attention to why they bite, you can find a solution that works for both of you! If your bird has been biting too much or for no reason at all, talk to an avian expert about ways to fix the problem.
Biting is not something that just goes away on its own, so make sure that you address the problem before it becomes too serious!
To learn more about conures and other wonderful pet birds, visit the rest of our blog and stock up on knowledge!
Featured Image Credit: Tracy Starr, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.